Asian Cup 2019 final: Captains urge calm as Japan meets Qatar in summit clash

Japan and Qatar come into the Asian Cup final on the back of highly charged semifinal clashes.

From left: Maya Yoshida, Japan Head coach Hajime Moriyasu, Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez Bas and captain Hasan Al Haydos pose with Asian Cup trophy.   -  Getty Images

Japan's semifinal clash against Iran was not the best example of sportsmanship and experienced defender Maya Yoshida has called for Japan and Qatar to show their continent's football in its best light during Friday's AFC Asian Cup 2019 final.

Japan's 3-0 semifinal win over tournament favourite Iran turned into a melee in the closing minutes after Iran's star forward Sardar Azmoun slapped Gaku Shibasaki.

"I don't want to see any stupid things after the game because we are really representing Asia," Southampton defender Yoshida told reporters.

READ | 'Emotional breakdown' as Japan stuns imploding Iran

"We have the hashtag #bringingasiatogether, so it's really important and beneficial to all the Asian countries to represent Asia by playing good football and with fair play. I expect both teams to play with 100 per cent effort, with fair play and to make a good game and show all over the world how we play. That makes another step not only for Japan but Asian football."

Iran's forward Sardar Azmoun (3rd-L) and Iran's forward Karim Ansari Fard (2nd-L) confront Japan's defender Sei Muroya (2nd-R) and Japan's midfielder Gaku Shibasaki (R).   -  AFP

 

Qatar captain Hasan Al Haydos echoed Yoshida's call for calm as the 2022 World Cup host aims to complete a shock triumph in a tournament where it has never previously progressed beyond the quarterfinals.

Qatar prevailed 4-0 in a highly charged encounter with host United Arab Emirates, with the ill-feeling between the two Gulf states manifesting as supporters threw shoes at Qatari players celebrating goals.

READ | Asian Cup 2019: AFC to probe shoe-throwing semifinal

"I think the most important thing in the game is to remain calm, everyone will be excited, but remaining calm is crucial," he told a pre-match news conference.

"Everyone must be patient and put into practice what the coach tells us. We must be highly focused and patient."

Irate UAE fans threw shoes and watter bottles onto the pitch during their team's clash against Qatar on Tuesday.   -  Reuters

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Japan - Yuya Osako

The Werder Bremen forward got off to a flyer with a brace in Japan's tournament opener against Turkmenistan. Muscular problems kept him sidelined for the next three matches but, following a substitute cameo against Vietnam in the quarter-finals, his double left Iran with a task it was ill-equipped to tackle.

Qatar – Almoez Ali

The only player to have more goals than Osako in the tournament is Qatar striker Almoez, who has plundered his way to double that haul. His wonderfully worked strike in the rout of UAE took him to eight from nine shots. In doing so he equalled the competition record of Iran great Ali Daei, who scored eight times in the 1996 edition.

Yuya Osako's double left Iran with a task it was ill-equipped to tackle.   -  AFP

Key Opta facts

- Japan is making its fifth final appearance and won each of the previous four.
- Qatar is the 10th different nation to appear in an Asian Cup final – four of the previous nine sides making their first appearance in the final went onto win.
- Qatar has scored 16 goals and conceded none in its six games at the 2019 Asian Cup; currently the best-ever goal difference by a team at a single Asian Cup tournament.
- Japan has scored in all 16 Asian Cup games it has participated in since the start of the 2011 tournament, netting a total of 33 goals.
- Qatar has as many wins and more clean sheets in the 2019 Asian Cup it had in its previous 32 games and nine tournaments combined.
- Qatar’s Akram Hassan Afif has eight assists - four more than any other player - and has created a tournament-best 20 goal-scoring chances.